“Adaptive Sports! It felt like I was reborn. It was a new life. And it is like day and night. When I saw wheelchair softball on the TV, I said ‘I can do that!’. I felt the sun shine in my life again.” Hector Bruno, Chicago, IL
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Manati, Puerto Rico. My family moved to Chicago when I was 5 years old. I’ve lived in Chicago ever since.
Are you involved with adaptive sports?
Yes a lot! First, I started playing wheelchair softball. Then, I got involved with wheelchair basketball, hand cycling, and sled hockey.
How did you become involved with adaptive sports?
I have a spinal cord injury due to a gun shooting in 1980 in Chicago. For 7 years, I did not know about wheelchair sports and was having a really hard time with life. Then, one day I was watching tv and saw a commercial with Keith Wallace, the coach of a Chicago wheelchair softball team.
What has adaptive sports done for you?
Adaptive Sports! It felt like I was reborn. It was a new life. And it is like day and night. When I didn’t know about adaptive sports, I did nothing for years and years. Then all of a sudden, I saw wheelchair softball on the TV and I said “I can do that”. When you try it, you get hooked. It‘s the best thing that’s happened to me.
What are your long term aspirations?
I want to spread the word about adaptive sports and ABC Medical. I want to get as many people involved in adaptive sports – the sooner the better. As soon as someone gets out of the hospital, they need to start getting involved. They should not have time to think about their situation and be devastated.
You recently started coaching children? How do you like it?
Yes, I coach the RIC Cubs team. It’s the junior team. I love to see the look on their faces when they catch the ball. The children are between seven to fifteen years old.
So they are either newly injured or just starting to play wheelchair sports?
Yes to both. The look on their faces is great. I regularly tell them “good, you’re doing a great job,” because it encourages them. They like playing a lot and are extremely happy. They are like little angels.
What is one thing that you wish people knew more about adaptive sports?
Adaptive sports provide great options for people. It helps you get to know people who are involved in sports. It gives you confidence and inspires you. And it makes you the best person you can be and helps you move on.
How did you deal with the challenge of being in a wheelchair?
I love challenges. I moved forward. You see the challenge, move forward and get ready for a new challenge.
What would people be surprised to hear about you?
I am stubborn. I am very stubborn. And I hate when people say “no” or “you can’t”. The more you say “no” to me, the more I’ll say “yes”; the more you say “you can’t” , the more I’ll say “I can”.
Do you have anything else you’d like to share with us?
My only message is to always think positively, never take bad advice. Listen to those who give good advice.
Can you explain what you mean by “bad advice”?
People say “you can’t do this,” “you can’t do that because you are in wheelchair.”
Are there people out there who give bad advice?
Yes, a lot of people give bad advice! People who are ignorant about people in wheelchairs always give bad advice. They make you feel more crippled than you really are. That’s unnecessary. Unless I ask your opinion, do not approach me and try to tell me what to do. I appreciate it, but no thanks.
For more information or the full interview, visit ABC Medical’s blog!